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Learn | 02.15.2023

Why Does THC Cause Anxiety?

While some cannabis users don't experience THC-induced paranoia and anxiety, others steer clear of weed for this reason.

We’ve all been there before. Whether it was your first time getting high or an episode you experienced last night, THC-induced anxiety and paranoia are very common. 

Although you might use cannabis to relieve your anxiety, others avoid using weed altogether because it gives them anxiety. So, the question remains, why does THC have this effect on us? What happens in our brains and bodies that produces anxiety after we ingest THC?

See below for more information about the link between THC and anxiety, how to manage it, and whether THC can relieve anxiety or cause it. 

THC And Anxiety

As mentioned, THC can either cause anxiety or relieve it, depending on the person, the amount of THC used, and if there are any other cannabinoids present in the product.

For the sake of education, let’s focus on the link between THC and anxiety/paranoia. It’s more common to experience this when:

  • Using an excessive amount of weed in one sitting
  • Using products that are very high in THC, 25%+
  • New to cannabis and haven’t established your perfect dose

Ample research shows that using high-THC products is the leading cause of THC-induced anxiety and paranoia. That’s because your brain is reacting to the influx of THC, which it isn’t used to. 

More specifically, it overstimulates the amygdala, which is responsible for how we experience emotions. When the amygdala is overstimulated, it can promote a fight or flight response, where THC-induced anxiety and paranoia kick in.

How To Manage THC-Induced Anxiety And Paranoia

Your heart is racing. You can’t get a grip on reality. You’re lost in a state of panic and would do anything to relieve this episode. This is something many cannabis users know all too well, myself included.

Managing THC-induced anxiety and paranoia can seem impossible. Below, we’ve included some tips on how to do it.

5-4-3-2-1 Method: Out of all the anxiety-reducing methods out there, the 5-4-3-2-1 Method always works. This is a coping technique used for general anxiety, and it’s incredibly useful in this situation too. Here’s how it works.

  • Acknowledge 5 things you can see
  • Acknowledge 4 things you can touch
  • Acknowledge 3 things you can hear
  • Acknowledge 2 things you can smell
  • Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste

If it doesn’t work the first time, do it again. Repeat until you feel a sense of calm and groundedness again.

Controlled Breathing: During your 5-4-3-2-1 Method, take deep, controlled breaths. The more oxygen our bodies receive during anxiety, the easier it is to relieve.

Hydrate: Staying hydrated is essential for everyday functioning, but it’s also a must when experiencing anxiety. Don’t guzzle down a whole bottle, as this can cause nausea during your anxiety episode. Take one sip at a time and breath in between.

Go Outside: It’s currently a brisk 6°C where I am, but that doesn’t stop me from heading outdoors during an anxiety attack. If anything, the cool weather stimulates the senses and refreshes the body. Regardless of your location, heading outside when feeling THC-induced anxiety will always help.

Talk To Someone: The key to beating THC-induced anxiety is feeling grounded and grasping reality. So, the best way to do that is to talk to another human being, whether face-to-face or on the phone. Tell them about what you’re feeling. Some people may offer advice, while others laugh in your face (which might help you get a kick out of the situation). Either way, you’ll be feeling like yourself in no time.

Can THC Help Anxiety?

Oddly enough, yes! Although THC can cause anxiety, it can also relieve it. Revisiting what we noted above, THC-induced anxiety and paranoia usually occur:

  • In new cannabis users
  • With high amounts of THC
  • Using lots of weed in one sitting

So, if you’re a seasoned user, chances are you know your perfect dose. When used responsibly, THC can relieve anxiety by relaxing the mind and body while promoting effects like relief, euphoria, and optimism. 

THC can also help anxiety when used with CBD or other cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, CBC, etc. Using two or more cannabinoids together promotes the entourage effect, where these cannabinoids become more effective at promoting your desired effect. So, if that’s anxiety relief, try using a product with THC and CBD to nip stress in the bud.

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